Alaska Electric Light and Power Company Lemon Creek operations center in Juneau on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Alaska Electric Light and Power Company Lemon Creek operations center in Juneau on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

After denial, AEL&P owners not giving up on merger

Avista, Hydro One trying to get utility commission to reconsider

The owner of Juneau’s electric utility isn’t giving up on merging with a Canadian power company.

Ontario power company Hydro One filed in July 2017 to purchase Avista, a Washington-based utility company that owns Alaska Electric Light & Power. On Dec. 5, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) denied that application.

This Monday, Avista and Hydro One issued a joint press release stating that they intend to file paperwork to ask the UTC to reconsider its decision. The companies will file a petition no later than next Monday, according to the release.

Once that petition is filed, the UTC has 20 days to act on it, according to Washington law. If the UTC grants the petition, that wouldn’t necessarily mean that the UTC would reverse its Dec. 5 decision. It would mean that the UTC members would take another look at their decision and reconsider whether to change it.

The main reason the three-member UTC gave for denying the purchase was the political influence in Hydro One’s leadership. The Province of Ontario owns 47 percent of the utility (making it the largest shareholder), according to the UTC decision.

As a result, there was a huge upheaval in Hydro One’s leadership this summer. When a new party took over the Ontario Legislative Assembly, the party ousted the Hydro One CEO and replaced the entire Board of Directors.

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